Employment-Eleventh Circuit Rules That Plaintiffs Are Employees For FLSA Purposes

In Scantland v. Jeffrey Knight, Inc., No. 12-12614 (11th Cir. 2013), the plaintiffs were appealing the district court’s summary judgment against them. The district court held that the plaintiffs are independent contractors, instead of employees, and thus are not entitled to overtime and minimum wage protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”).

In analyzing the case, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (the “Court”) concluded that, viewing the facts most favorably towards the plaintiffs and with all justifiable inferences drawn in their favor, the plaintiffs were employees under the FLSA.

In so concluding, the Court tested the plaintiffs’ status as employee or independent contractor using the “economic reality” test. This test requires the examination of a number of factors, such as the alleged employer’s control over the work, the opportunity for profit or loss by the individual in question, the individual’s investment in equipment and special skills, and the individual’s permanency, duration and integration at work; the overall factor is the economic dependence of the individual in question, that is, whether he works for the alleged employer or is in business for himself. The Court found that the factors in this case pointed to the plaintiffs’ status as employees. As such, the Court overturned the district court’s decision, and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings.